Being a teacher is one of the hardest jobs there is. The pay is low, and while it's true you get summers off, the hours are bad and the stress is constant. Not only are you dealing with kids, but you've got their parents and your own bosses, too. Over on Reddit, former teachers talked about what it was that made them decide to quit. Here's what they had to say about the moment they realized that teaching was just not for them.
1. Sirscratchewan couldn't take the utter despair of working in one of the worst school's in the nation.
I was in one of the worst schools in the nation. 48% graduation rate for the high school, although I taught at the elementary level. I could tell so, so many stories. A kindergartner coming across the desk to strangle a coworker, kids screaming and throwing chairs, a student with hundreds of cigarette burns all over his body. The abuse cases were horrendous. A parent threatened to murder me after I gave her son a pair of socks. He had not taken off his current pair all year.
But one day a little 6 year old girl told me that she and her sisters were being sold to men every night for as long as they could remember. I think something broke inside me that day. When I went to the principal to discuss a course of action (calling police, DFACS, etc.) she said she wanted me to keep my mouth shut. She was tired of her school "looking bad".
Edit: because so many people are asking, I immediately called the police and DFACS. The principal was later arrested on drug charges. But I had already quit at that point.
2. For Ncarolinarunner, it was a combination of nepotism and pepper spray. Yikes.
Nepotism is a major problem in smaller school districts. Yes men, family members, and friends will get hired as the school system is one of the better paying jobs in the county. All of this is done in return for loyalty and not questioning if decisions are best for the kids.
One of the bigger nails in the coffin was when I was pepper sprayed by the school resource officer AFTER myself and another teacher had broken up a fight and were sending students back to class. He sprayed to "disperse the crowd" spraying myself and our female assistant principle in the face and causing three students to have asthma attacks. For as little as I was being paid, I could find a safer place to work where people were less incompetent.
3. Dalab was too stressed, not by the kids, but by a boss.
I worked in a high needs behavior class. I got hit, punched, scratched and spat on daily, but every day I went back and did my best for those kids. I was so battered and bruised that my husband wouldn't shop with me anymore because people would stare and sometimes even comment to him about his mistreating me. It was sickening, but I loved my job and every one of those kids.
One day was called to the office to talk. It was Christmas time and things weren't great at home and as anyone with kids knows the holidays makes children especially high strung so things were also wild in the classroom. My boss said "you seem awfully stressed" and I thought how nice of her to notice so I agreed that yes I was struggling. She said "you have 6 weeks to sort it out or I'll have to let you go".
I was crushed. It literally broke me. 6 weeks to get less stressed...how does that even work? I found myself just showing up to show up and I realized that wasn't fair for me or for the kids.
6 weeks later I get a call back to the office. I am congratulated on the amazing turn around and sent back to class. I was baffled. I was more upset and stressed than ever and they congratulate me??
More and more I showed up to work just for the paycheck. One day I just decided screw it, I wasn't a teacher anymore I was a robot fearful of showing any negativity . I quit that week. Never went back to teaching.
4. Taco_Pie's wife decided that dealing with parents wasn't worth it.
Not me but my wife. She was an engineer at a good company on the east coast. Left because she wanted more rewarding work. Soon after she is doing clinicals at a school on the rough side of our home town. She was the kind of student teacher who showed up early, ate lunch with the kids, stayed late, and followed up with parents. Anyway....
Some months in she has repeatedly had trouble with some students (they came from troubled homes and brought a lot with them into the class each day). She tried working with them one on one, working with the administration, and the parents. More than one set of parents said "Stop calling." And the administration told her to send them to the principal's office (where they could sit all day) and focus on the "good" kids.
Eventually, the futility set in.... She was the only one who cared. Not the kids, administration, other teachers, or even their parents. She finally wore herself out after a couple years with no support at work and no one appreciating her efforts (except me of course!).
She's back in aerospace now.
When I realized that I was being more micromanaged every year. I expected a lot of oversight when I was a new teacher. I actually had more people watching my every move & every word after a Master's Degree & fifteen years experience. I never had a single complaint. Parents & students loved me (even requested me). Administrators needing to justify their jobs were constantly in my classroom or calling pointless meetings to discuss pointless things. I spent less & less time teaching and more & more time filing out meaningless forms, responding to emails, and sitting through meetings.
6. Gordon_Gano worked for a particularly jaded dean.
I had a student, maybe 11 or 12, sitting with me and having pizza. I asked how her life was going and she says "Well, my dad's a drug dealer so he's always got people coming over to sell or buy drugs or play cards so I can't sleep. My mom's dying because she has a hole in her heart and they can't fix it. And I have a boyfriend but I'm afraid to tell my mom because she'll tell my dad and he'll beat me." Just normal, like this was everyday stuff.
So, as a mandatory reporter I go to my Dean of Students and tell him all this, and he just gets irritated and goes "Yeah, but that doesn't excuse her behavior."
That's when I knew I was done.
7. For 12thKnight, it was the moment the knives came out.
Two 16 year old kids were facing each other (I had the classroom seats in a U shape) and were silently challenging each other to fight while I was in the middle of a lesson. They suddenly jumped up from their chairs and came at each other with eight inch knives with me in between them.
I was pretty built, having been a stonemason's apprentice in college to help pay my way through, but these kids were both bigger than me. Without thinking I grabbed each by their collars and shouted SIT. DOWN.
I didn't start shaking until that evening. I was done a week later.
8. For kawkasp, it wasn't actually the knife but the parents.
I had a 6-year old pull a knife on me while screaming "I will kill you". This was the culmination of a lot of various incidents with the same kid. What was most infuriating was the parents claiming they had the sweetest little boy and that we (the school) must be liars for saying otherwise. Eventually he was transferred to a special school after we filed a report on the various incidents.
I felt really bad for the kid because when he wasn't freaking out over something he would be the sweetest guy asking a ton of questions and participating in the activities, but he was highly prone to snapping into hysteria.
The incident with the knife happened in this afterschool setting where the kids go to play and have fun. Apparently another kid had done something he disliked so he was kicking and spitting on him when I pulled him away. He ran straight to the drawer and found a little kitchen knife. Due to his size it was pretty easy to wrestle out of his hands though so no harm done.
I guess dealing with shitty parents was what made me change my career.
9. Twistedsapphire realized teaching was the job of her dreams, only those dreams were nightmares.
When I realized that I couldn't even escape teaching in my dreams; my life was so focused on teaching that every night I had nightmares about it.
Followed by the pain I feel in my chest from heart palpitations; my heart would constantly race and then stop all together.
Finally, when on the last day of Thanksgiving break, I realized I had cried every single day because I didn't want to go back to school. I was so low that I had planned my own suicide to get out of teaching, but I figured life had to improve if I just quit teaching, even if I'd be another unemployed millennial statistic.
I lasted 15 months. The only thing that makes me feel a little better about the situation is that the retired cop who replaced me only lasted 3 (he had been an officer in the same city I was teaching).
10. Jaybor wanted to be more than a babysitter.
My decision to quit was a two-step process: First, I taught high school English in rural Illinois. When I wasn't debating students after class because they didn't like the B+ I gave them I was frequently given implicit instructions by the administration to pass my failing students. Then I moved to Washington DC and taught in the DC public school system and realized that I was merely a babysitter. Barely any of my students could read, but the goal of my school was containment. Priority was keeping the students in the classroom and not in the hallways. I was told I couldn't assign homework because the students wouldn't do it anyway. I couldn't give my students any text books because the students just dumped them in the trash after school. (If kids are seen with books in their neighborhoods they were often ridiculed and sometimes beaten by their peers.) Parent/teacher conferences often meant meeting with Grandma whose parenting style was "Jesus will take care of it." When I was in college I had dreams of teaching Julius Caesar to young people. Teaching turned out to be quite different. I have huge respect for the teachers who can do it. I could not.